The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
– South Korea reports 86 new cases of coronavirus, bringing total above 10,000.
– China says it has 31 new confirmed virus cases, 29 from overseas.
– North Korea says only around 500 remain under coronavirus quarantine.
– Washington extends orders to keep non-essential business closed, citizens home through May 4.
SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea has reported 86 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing its caseload above 10,000.
South Koreaâ€™s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday said about half of the new cases came from the densely populous Seoul metropolitan area, where infections linked to international arrivals have been rising.
Another 22 infections were detected at airports where workers have been isolating and testing passengers arriving with fever or respiratory symptoms.
South Korea has been enforcing two-week quarantines on all passengers arriving from overseas since Wednesday to stem a rise in imported infections.
Seoul on Friday opened a huge coronavirus testing station in a sports complex built for the 1988 Summer Olympics to test hundreds of people returning to the capital each day amid broadening outbreaks in Europe and the United States.
The KCDC says at least 647 of the countryâ€™s 10,062 cases have been linked to passengers arriving from abroad, with most of the cases detected over the past three weeks in the Seoul metropolitan area.
BEIJING – China on Friday reported 31 new confirmed virus cases, 29 of them from overseas, and four new deaths.
The National Health Commission says just 1,727 confirmed cases are now in treatment, while 12 suspected cases are under observation and 1,027 asymptomatic cases are being isolated and monitored. No new or suspected cases were reported in the city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected in December.
China now has recorded a total of 81,620 cases and 3,322 deaths, although some speculate those figures may be too low because of a lack of testing and official candor during the worst of the outbreak in January.
SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea says only around 500 people remain under coronavirus quarantine in the country after authorities in recent weeks released thousands of others who supposedly had no symptoms.
The Northâ€™s official Korean Central News Agency said Friday the country will continue to strengthen its anti-virus campaign amid the global spread of COVID-19.
The agency says officials during a recent national emergency meeting shared criticism over unspecified areas where quarantine controls had become passive.
The report didnâ€™t say whether any of those remain under quarantine were foreigners.
The North had initially placed 380 foreigners under what it described as medical isolation, but KCNA said last week that only two of them remained quarantined. The North last month arranged a special government flight to fly out dozens of diplomats to Vladivostok, Russia.
The impoverished country has not publicly confirmed a single case of the COVID-19 illness, but state media has described anti-virus efforts as a matter of â€œnational existence.â€ It has banned foreign tourists, shut down nearly all cross-border traffic with China, intensified screening at entry points and mobilized health workers to monitor residents and isolate those with symptoms.
WASHINGTON – Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday extended orders to keep non-essential businesses closed and most of the stateâ€™s more than 7 million residents home through May 4, saying that social distancing measures must remain in place an additional month in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
In recent days, Inslee had been signaling that his initial stay-at-home orders from March 23 – which were set to expire next week – would be extended. The new proclamation extends the original order from two weeks to six. Under previous actions taken by Inslee in response to the coronavirus outbreak, all bars, dine-in restaurants, entertainment and recreation facilities have been closed even longer, since March 17.
He said the stateâ€™s efforts to date have been robust â€œbut we have an obligation to ourselves and to our loved ones to recognize this is a hard road ahead of us.â€
UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. General Assembly has unanimously approved a resolution recognizing â€œthe unprecedented effectsâ€ of the coronavirus pandemic and calling for â€œintensified international cooperation to contain, mitigate and defeatâ€ COVID-19.
The 193-member world body did not approve a rival resolution sponsored by Russia calling for U.N. solidarity in the face of the challenges posed by COVID-19 and urging countries not to apply unilateral sanctions without U.N. Security Council approval in order to tackle the virus.
Under new voting rules instituted because the General Assembly isnâ€™t holding meetings, if a single country objects a resolution is defeated.
Diplomats said the European Union, United Kingdom, United States and Ukraine objected to the Russian draft, and the General Assembly was extending the deadline for objections until 6 p.m. EDT on Tuesday. It wasnâ€™t clear if Russia would make changes to try to win approval.
General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande sent a letter to all U.N. member nations Thursday night informing them that there were no objections to the resolution entitled â€œGlobal Solidarity to fight the coronavirus diseaseâ€ sponsored by Ghana, Indonesia, Liechtenstein, Norway, Singapore and Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. He said the resolution was approved and is in effect.
The resolution also recognizes COVID-19â€™s â€œsevere disruption to societies and economies, as well as to global travel and commerce, and the devastating impact on the livelihood of people,â€ and that â€œthe poorest and most vulnerable are the hardest hit.â€
BOSTON – The New England Patriots’ private team plane returned to Boston from China carrying most of an order of 1 million masks critical to health care providers fighting to control the spread of the coronavirus.
â€œThis shipment comes at a critical time as we prepare for an anticipated surge in the coming weeks ahead,â€ Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said. â€œWhat we were able to accomplish with this particular mission will go a long way forward in this fight.â€
Baker secured the N95 masks from Chinese manufacturers, but had no way of getting them to the U.S. Baker said Thursday an earlier order for 3 million masks had been confiscated at the Port of New York and this time he wanted a direct humanitarian delivery to the state.
In an interview with Patriots.com radio Thursday, Kraft Sports and Entertainment chief operating officer Jim Nolan said the Chinese government didnâ€™t sign off on the trip until March 27. He said the hurdles included legal logistics that were only cleared thanks to cooperation involving multiple state, U.S. and international entities. Nolan said the Patriots received permission to land in China and got a waiver of a 14-day quarantine because the pilots didnâ€™t get off the plane.
Baker said some masks will go to New York and Rhode island. The story was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is considering intervening to stop the release of some prisoners amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Correctional facilities in states such as California, Michigan and Pennsylvania have begun releasing certain inmates as the prisons face a shortage of medical supplies.
Trump said Thursday that â€œwe donâ€™t like it.â€
The president added that â€œweâ€™re looking to see if I have the right to stop it in some cases.â€
He did not elaborate what measures, or under what legal authority, he would take to stop or reverse the releases.
DETROIT – A Detroit bus driver who had expressed anger on Facebook about a coughing passenger has died from COVID-19, officials said Thursday.
Jason Hargrove felt ill about four days after posting a passionate video on social media on March 21. He died Wednesday, said Glenn Tolbert, the head of the drivers union.
Hargrove posted a profanity-laced video complaining about a woman whom he said had repeatedly coughed while on his bus. The coronavirus can spread through coughs. The woman was not in the video.
Hargrove said drivers are â€œpublic workers doing our job, trying to make a honest living, take care of our families.â€
â€œFor you to get on the bus … and cough several times without covering up your mouth and you know (weâ€™re) in the middle of a pandemic – that lets me know that some folks donâ€™t care,â€ Hargrove said. â€œAt some point in time, weâ€™ve got to draw the line and say enough is enough. I feel violated.â€
On March 17, the city eliminated fares, promised more cleaning and told bus riders to enter and exit from the rear door only. The changes occurred after drivers declined to work that day to protest conditions.
Mayor Mike Duggan said â€œeverybody in Americaâ€ should watch Hargroveâ€™s video.
WASHINGTON – White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx says incoming infection data suggests not enough Americans are abiding by guidelines in the national â€œcall to actionâ€ to stem the spread of the virus.
Administration officials say the United States’ infection and death rate from the virus is akin to what hard-hit Italy is facing. Italy has a population of about 60 million and has recorded nearly 14,000 deaths and 115,000 infections. The United States, with a population of about 327 million, has recorded more than 5,800 deaths and more than 240,000 infections.
Birx noted that Spain, Italy, France, and Germany have begun â€œto bend their curves.â€ But she says Americans will need to do a better job abiding by social distancing guidelines issued by the White House so the U.S. can do the same.
The White House issued its social distancing guidelines on March 16. Americans were advised to work from home when possible, cancel onsite learning and frequently wash hands.
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trumpâ€™s administration is looking to crack down on a growing black market of medical supplies.
The national Defense Production Act policy coordinator, Peter Navarro, says there is a “black market springing up” to drive up prices of protective gear.
He said the federal government would step in to stop the practice.
But Trump added that states would remain the primary purchaser of medical supplies and that the federal government would remain in a backup role.
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act to rapidly expand domestic manufacturing of N95 protective masks by Minnesota-based by 3M to assist first responders.
A memorandum signed by Trump calls for DHS Secretary Chad Wolf to â€œuse any and all authority availableâ€ under the act to acquire masks produced by 3M Co. FEMA Administrator Rear Adm. John Polowczyk is charged to determine the number of masks needed, according to the memo.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told lawmakers in late February that the U.S. needed a stockpile of about 300 million N95 face masks for medical workers on the front lines of stemming the spread of the virus.
WASHINGTON – The White House says it is prepared to launch a $350 billion lending program on Friday that is intended to help struggling small businesses that have been affected by the coronavirus catastrophe.
Small Business Administration administrator Jovita Carranza said the paycheck protection program will help small companies keep employees on payroll and remain afloat.
Lenders have raised concerns that they wonâ€™t be able to handle the crush of applications as businesses scurry for a cash infusion and help keeping employees on the payroll. The Labor Department announced that unemployment claims soared to 6.6 million last week, more than double the previous week.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration decided to raise interest rate to 1% instead of 50 basis points to make the program more attractive to community lenders.
NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio has asked New Yorkers to wear a face covering when they go outside and will be near other people.
He cited research showing asymptomatic people could be spreading the coronavirus without realizing it. De Blasio said at a press briefing that until now, â€œthere just wasnâ€™t evidenceâ€ to support the move.
â€œWhen you put on that face covering, youâ€™re protecting everyone else,â€ he said.
The mayor said it could be a scarf or a bandanna or anything homemade, but it should not be a surgical mask needed by front-line medical workers.
A recent study by researchers in Singapore became the latest to estimate that somewhere around 10% of new infections may be sparked by people who carry the virus but have not yet suffered its flu-like symptoms.
In response to that study and others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed how it defined the risk of infection for Americans. The agencyâ€™s new guidance targeted people who have no symptoms but were exposed to others with known or suspected infections. It essentially says that anyone may be a carrier, whether that person has symptoms or not.
WASHINGTON – The Congressional Budget Office on Thursday projected the U.S. unemployment rate will exceed 10% this quarter, while the economy could shrink by an annualized rate exceeding 28%.
The estimates donâ€™t take into account the massive economic rescue package that Congress passed a week ago. They could be much larger.
CBO Director Phillip Swagel wrote in a blog post that â€œCBO expects that the economy will contract sharply during the second quarter of 2020 as a result of the continued disruption of commerce stemming from the spread of the novel coronavirus.â€
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